The Charleston became a popular dance craze in 1920s America, and is most frequently associated with white flappers and the speakeasy. The Charleston was then considered immoral and provocative, and these young women would dance it alone or together as a way of mocking the "drys", those citizens who supported Prohibition.

Charleston was one of the dances from which Lindy Hop and Jazz Roots developed in the 1930s. A slightly different form of Charleston soon developed, in which the hot jazz timing of the 1920s Charleston was adapted to suit the swing jazz music of the 30s and 40s. This style of Charleston has many names, though the most common are Lindy Charleston, Savoy Charleston, 30s or 40s Charleston and Swing(ing) Charleston. In both the 1920s Charleston and the Swinging Charleston, the basic step takes 8 counts and is danced either alone or with a partner.